Justin Timberlake in 'TKO' revenge fantasy music video: Watch
Love is a battlefield, as Pat Benatar sang. Or in the case of Justin Timberlake, it’s a boxing match...even if you never step into the ring.
In the new video for “TKO,” Timberlake and his lady, played by Riley Keough (in case you don’t know, the actress is Elvis Presley’s granddaughter) have what one might call a turbulent relationship...or so we're supposed to ascertain.
She mainly walks around their modern, gorgeous apartment in one of his shirts, pouting unless they’re having make-up sex on their kitchen island. He just stares off into the distance as an arty representation of his deep, existential unhappiness brought on by her borrowing his shirts without asking (or whatever, we don't really know).
The make-up sex clearly doesn’t solve their issues because next thing we know, she’s clocking him with a cast-iron skillet and somehow, he finds himself being dragged behind her pick up truck for miles and miles. He’s still able to sing in the laughably bad clip and doesn’t seem to be in any particular pain. The video doesn’t come to a good end for him, but, hey, his shirt and hair are perfect even when he’s getting towed behind the truck like a small boat.
I know we’re supposed to look at the clip as revenge fantasy and it’s all fun and games, but can you imagine the uproar if it were a man dragging his girlfriend behind the truck or if he slammed her with the pan? This is a misguided look at domestic violence and there’s really no way you can make it work unless you take a much more obviously cartoon-y look than they do here (they already pull all their punches- the sex is pretty antiseptic, no blood after the skillet hit, he almost seems to be enjoyed being dragged) or you really commit and go all out (and run a link to a domestic violence hotline afterwards). Actually, on second thought, you can't make it work at all. They should have just played off the "TKO" theme and done a fun remake of the Barbra Streisand/Ryan O'Neal movie "The Main Event" or gone darker but not had the domestic violence. The song doesn’t have the serious edge of Eminem/Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie,” which took a very dramatic look at an abusive relationship and it worked. You felt the horror. This is just a well-shot fashion shoot that goes awry.